The Swatch Group leaves Baselworld; will this bring a wave of innovation to the industry?
The Swatch Group shocked the watch. but just as much, the jewelry world by announcing it would leave Baselworld. As we are waiting for more details, here is my view on what this means. And also; the end coming for Baselworld?
The Swatch Group is big
With 18 brands, including Harry Winston, Blancpain, Breguet, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Rado, Jaquet Droz, Glashutte Original, Hamilton and more, it takes away a significant part of the traditional famous and prestigious watch brands.
Earlier the Movado group moved away from Basel as did the Richemont group, who formed the SIIH fair in Geneva.
Nick Hayek about why Swatch leaves Baselworld
This is the statement from a man known for its outspoken character; Nick Hayek CEO Swatch Group:
"Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous. Accordingly, a different rhythm and a different approach is needed. ... In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. This does not mean that they should disappear. But it is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and demonstrating more dynamism and creativity’’
Without further information, one has to guess the real motivation behind the move. Often, what is said to the press or in a statement is a very curated -every word carefully chosen-declaration of a brand or group in this case, but doesn’t necessarily tell us the whole truth.
Is it all true?
How many big groups or corporations tell the whole truth when a deal hasn’t gone the way they wanted? Often it’s about having a different vision for the future, more often even it is about money. As press, we should be careful not to just blindly believe what is said, and point fingers at the MCH group, which organizes Baselworld and say that it is their fault they don’t reinvent themselves enough.
But as much as I may agree that this reinvention is needed, true innovation doesn’t often come from the large institutes that have decades of rich history as Baselworld has.
Reinvention comes from disrupters and disrupters of the industry often come from younger brands and younger people, with less to lose and no history weighing on their shoulders, which can, but certainly not always successfully, lead to a very fresh new take on any industry. The watch industry knows some innovative companies, much more visible than the ones in the jewelry industry, and has a lot of potential in that sense. It could be an idea; brainstorming with those younger brands can lead to an answer on how to reinvent the Baselworld in such a way that it leads to both customer(retailer) satisfaction as it does in terms of ROI for the exhibitors.
Swatch was once a disrupter of an industry, will it show us again what disruption looks like?
The Swatch brand itself once was such a disrupter of the industry. Its success took many by surprise and they took over many of the classic brands in the industry. I love Swatch. I have always loved Swatch, but they haven’t been very disruptive or surprising since that first 10 years of their existence on the market. Perhaps proving how difficult it is for any established brand to remain exciting and new and promising….The experience of buying a swatch, I recently visited one of their mono-brand stores in Platja d’Aro, Spain, where an uninspired lady behind the counter seemed much more interested in her cell phone than in saying hello to me, hasn’t changed much. You can touch most of the watches, which is cool. But why can’t I see the entire collection? Why can’t I see on my wrist in a virtual way a watch that may match my personality, likes, and dreams?
We now can only, as we wait for more details, sit back and see what the Swatch Group will come up with for their clients.
Trade shows and Brands, Swatch and Baselworld: Don't forget it's all about the jewelry and watch retailers!
One thing, however, that all groups and brands should be aware of is that their clients are looking for an experience. How cool would it be, if brands or a show would take care of everything, leaving it to almost just a click on the mobile of a retailer (or press) to come and visit the fair. An all-inclusive package, with a few options, that takes away all the worry about where to stay and how to get to the fair. Where brands actively engage with infotainment and where tired pr people telling the same story over and over again, take care of press with a more delightful way of storytelling, engaging them truly and creating tables where they have optimized light and WiFi in order to allow them to take all the pictures, selfies (or selfie-booths with the new collection around their face, wrist etc) and more, that they need. Where one can indicate the brands one works with and have appointments made without having to call and shift with schedules and agendas on both sides. Where keynote speakers from inside and outside of the industry, give talks that are relevant for the retailer. Not by promoting a brand ( I have attended a few that were merely a talking advertisement for a particular brand and didn’t give me any emotion, value or anything whatsoever) but to give tools and inspiration to the retailer who has to sell that (your) product!
I agree that in the age of internet and the progress made in this area, we might think that it will be easier and much cheaper to buy our new stock online. But we aren’t there yet if we will ever get there. Because the value of peer to peer conversations, the cross-influencing of brands and retailers, the value of face to face storytelling and touching new products can still not be replaced by a virtual environment.
Bring it on Swatch Group!
So bring it on Swatch group! Show us what innovation in trade shows/ press presentation/ retailer buying experience looks like!
As for Baselworld; as a jewelry blogger it hurt me to see how everything seems to be Watches first, so yes do move the larger more glamorous ones to better positions, or be that hub again for the new, the innovative, the hopeful, the Millennial ( not in marketing terms only, but created by) brands. Allow them to come back and think about what to do with the repetitive complaints about way too expensive restaurants and hotels. A crisis, and the Swatch group leaving ( about €43.000.000 budget spent on Baselworld) is nothing less than a huge crisis, offers often that same state that we may envy of younger brands: a state of needing to be and becoming disruptive!